The Rock Star
Sean Reilly. Environmental Hero, Climber, Rhodes Scholar.
Sean cares about the Earth. A lot. In fact, before he arrived at Santa Clara University he knew he wanted to save the planet. And he’ll be the first to tell you, he picked the right school. As a junior at SCU, he conducted award-winning research in Australia that demonstrated how indigenous tourism could strengthen Aboriginal communities—moving them from welfare to sustainability. This set into motion a research wave he’s still riding. With the help of Professor Hari Mix, he presented findings to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes. Then a Fulbright Scholarship after graduation took him back to Australia to research the pond apple, a bio invader threatening native plant populations. Next? A Rhodes Scholarship where he’ll learn sophisticated modeling to perform research too large or complicated to physically sample. In other words, big data meets nature.
Why I Chose SCU.
“I knew I wanted to study environmental science in college—but at the right place. After being admitted to several schools, I sat down with the heads of the environmental science departments at each university to talk about their programs. When it was all over, it was clear SCU had everything I was looking for. The foundation of our education is rooted in Jesuit values—we’re continuously pushed to use our education for the betterment of society— which goes hand in hand with my environmental studies major. It was the perfect fit.”
What Makes SCU Unique.
“I took advantage of quite a few research opportunities, working with students and faculty outside of my core courses—people in economics, engineering, and philosophy. Passionate people. Because students and faculty at SCU share a mutual passion to better the world, we were a close-knit community. Through it all, faculty get to know students on a personal level. So when our hands went up in class, professors called on us by name. It felt good to belong to this community—it’s tough to come by at other schools.”
My Most Rewarding Experiences.
“I was president of Grass Roots Environmental Efforts Now (GREEN), a club dedicated to the promotion of sustainable and environmentally conscious behavior. One of the most rewarding campus events we organized was GREEN Earth Week— each day emphasizing a specific call to action to encourage student participation in sustainability on campus and to increase awareness of individual environmental impact. GREEN Earth Week culminates with an Earth Day Parade on the final afternoon of the week.”
What New Students Should Know.
“It’s easy to find people who share your interests. Through my clubs, courses, organizations, and residence halls, I surrounded myself with people who shared my commitment to addressing environmental issues. I also had a good group of friends who loved rock climbing as much as I do.”
Sean Reilly, Environmental Science
San Jose, California